Start by pointing your browser to aws.amazon.com and clicking on the Lightsail option. You can also get to Lightsail from your management console.
We're going to get started using Lightsail's $3.50-per-month tier, which is free for the first month. Unlike most of AWS, Lightsail is not usage-based. It's a fixed-price service, which puts it right into direct competition with Digital Ocean.
Next, you'll be asked to log into AWS. If you don't have an AWS account, you'll want to create one now.
Welcome to Lightsail. Let's start by creating your first instance, the virtual machine that will run your site.
Generally, it's best to choose the region closest to you. I'm in Oregon, so that's an easy decision.
Scroll on down and choose your instance image. This is where most of the magic is done. If you pick Linux and WordPress, Lightsail grabs those images and sets up a fully-working server for you.
This is where you provision the VM's resources. We're going to choose the $3.50-per-month tier and get a free month. That provides a VM with 512MB RAM, one virtual CPU, 20GB storage on SSDs, and a 1TB transfer limit. For most small WordPress sites, that's enough. I run a larger set of archived WordPress sites (not shown here), and I give them 4GB RAM, which means I spend $20 per month on them.
Next, give the instance a name. This is how you'll see your instance in the Lightsail dashboard. It's not what visitors to your site will see. When you've done that, you're ready to hit Create Instance. Wait a minute or so, and your VM will be created for you.
For me, it took about a minute for the VM to get instantiated. While it's cooking, the name will be grayed out.
Once your instance has been created and booted, it'll be shown in blue. Now, it's time to tweak the install. That's next.
Switch over to the Networking tab and hit Create Static IP.
Static IPs are free on Lightsail, as long as they're tied to an instance. You'll want to choose your instance and then name the IP (it can't be the same as the instance, so I just append Static-IP).
Once you've got your instance loaded, go ahead and hit Create.
That's the IP that will be used by your site's visitors. Next, click the Home button at the top of the screen.
Next, go back to the Networking tab and click the Create DNS Zone button. This will give you what you need to get your DNS provider to point to your site.
I'll be honest. I have no memory of why I registered yourconnectionstore.com, but I must have had something in mind. In any case, it's a domain I own, so we can link it to the IP for demo purposes. We'll be using this as our demo domain for the next few steps.
Scroll on down and click Create DNS Zone.
Amazon will now present you with a list of nameservers. You'll need to link these into your domain registrar. We'll do that next.
I manage my domains on GoDaddy. I went in and modified my name server records. Now, this is where things could take as long as a day (but, in my experience, it's usually about 30 minutes). GoDaddy has to update its records, and it needs to propagate nameservers out on the Internet. Basically, go watch a show, have a cup of coffee, or do time on the elliptical, and you'll be good.
Back in Lightsail, it's time to add an A record. You can also add other records, like MX records, but we'll keep it simple for now.
This is important. Be sure to select A (for Address) record. Be sure to put an @ (at-sign) into the field before the domain name. And be sure to select your previously defined Lightsail IP address. Then, hit the little green checkbox (which you can't see in this screenshot, but it's under the blue prompt).
Your DNS setup is complete. Give it a little while and try your domain name in your browser.
And there you go. Your site is up. But there are a few more steps that'll help you manage it.
We'll save you a step. After installing the site, the console asks for a reboot. We'll show you the console in a bit, but for now, go back to the Lightsail home, hit the drop-down, and select Reboot.
One cool feature of Lightsail is how easy it is to launch an SSH connection to the machine. Just hit the little prompt icon and you'll get a new shell window.
So here's the one place things are incredibly unintuitive. You have to launch the shell, and then type cat bitnami_application_password to see your WordPress admin password. Bitnami makes the WordPress stack that Amazon uses. Don't worry about me showing you the password. I'll be deleting this instance before you ever see this gallery.
To make your first login as WordPress admin, go to your domain/wp-admin. So, for our example, it's yourconnectionstore.com/wp-admin/. You'll need to login as 'user' with the password previously presented. I'm not super thrilled with all the cruft in this install, so our next steps will be to delete it and change the username.
I like to choose my own plugins, so I'm just going to delete all the installed plugins. I generally recommend you do the same. You may need to deactivate some of the plugins before you can delete them. I had to do that with Jetpack.
Using the Bitnami default admin username of 'user' is pretty weak. I like to create a scrambled name, along with a secure password (and I later add multi-factor auth to my WordPress sites). Before we can delete the 'user' admin, we need to create this new admin.
Finally, we'll delete the default admin user.
That's it. You're ready to rock. Build something great, and let us know in the comments below what sites you've built. We'd love to check them out!